Ringing in 2011.

Friday, December 31, 2010

This year went by fast to say the least! It was a big year for both of us as we each graduated from college and moved to new cities; Kristen to Tampa and Kelly to New York.  Looking back it was a great year and we wouldn't change a thing.

These past couple of days, our plans really took a turn.  All of our sisters and Javi (Kristen's boyfriend) had planned to go skiing and spend New Years Eve in New York.  Unfortunately, due to the snow, only Javi and Kristen were able to get out and make it to the city.  This changed our plans BIG time.  This is our first New Years apart and while we would like to have spent it together, we'll make the most of the situation.  Kelly will certainly have a great time in Miami and Kristen will without-a-doubt enjoy New Years in New York.

We look forward to what 2011 has to offer and can't wait to share it with you.  Wishing you all a Happy New Year and a wonderful 2011.

Twin Tales: The Day We Were Born.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Being identical twins, we're constantly asked what it is like. Can you read each others' minds? Have you ever played pranks on anyone? Who is older? Well, we want to share with you our favorite stories about being twins.  We're starting this sporadic "series" off with the story of the day we were born.

Once upon a time, 23 years ago, we entered this world.  We love asking our parents to tell the story because it is quite comical.  We'll give you the kicker at the beginning: my parents didn't know they were having twins!   Back in the 80s my father was skeptical about sonograms and said "Carol, you will not  be having one!" On April 21, 1987 our mother's water broke.  You would think the first thing would be to run to the hospital, but not her.  Instead she showered, did her hair, and put on her make-up so that she would be photo-ready in the hospital.  My mother was told that she was having one BIG baby.  After the doctor delivered Kristen the dialog went something like this:

Mom: "That is NOT a big baby!"
Doctor: "Wait, there's another one in there."
Nurse: "That's not funny.  This lady is nervous!!!"

Notice the lack of dialog from my dad who was was woozy and turning green.  Minutes later out pops Kelly! Our dad made a stop in the ER of the hospital as he was experiencing chest pains, probably due to the unexpected surprise.  For the next few days we shared a cradle until my parents were able to shop and eventually get two of everything. This goes to show that things don't always go as planned!

Mom-Mom's Christmas Anise Toasts.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Each Christmas, for as long as I've been alive, my Grandma (whom we refer to as "Mom-mom") baked us the most delicious cookies made from recipes that have been in our family for many generations. One was a Polish fried bow-tie cookie known as a krusciki and the other was a delicious biscotti cookie known as an anise toast. I had always been eager to learn to bake these family-famous cookies, so finally a couple years ago while I was an undergraduate student, I got a one-on-one cookie lesson from the baker herself (lucky me!). A year-and-a-half ago Mom-mom passed away and since then we've kept her tradition alive by continuing to bake the cookies. Today I am going to share with you the recipe for the anise toasts. Let me tell you, people either love them or hate them. Of course, my family can't get enough of them and we look forward to them every year!

Anise Toasts

2 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
1½ cups sugar
5 eggs
4 cups flour
3 Tsp. baking powder
½ Tsp. salt
1 Tbs. anise seeds (crushed)
1 Tbs. anise extract

Place butter, sugar, and eggs in bowl. Beat to a fluff. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together in a separate bowl. Place anise extract and anise seeds into butter mixture. Place flour mixture into butter mixture 1 cup at a time. Blend/mix well. Dough will be soft.

Place dough in a large plastic wrap and place in freezer. Dough should look like a loaf.

When ready to bake, cut dough into long log like pieces. Coat top with scrambled egg yolk and sprinkles. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Cut loaf into diagonal cookies. Turn cookies on side and bake for about another 10-15 minutes.

Let cool.

The Night Before Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The two of us eagerly awaiting Santa's arrival many, many years ago.

Oh how we miss the days when Santa would arrive while we were sleeping and leave presents under the tree! It was such a treat to see the cookies and milk all eaten up by Santa.  While Christmas was such a wonderful time for us when we were younger, it is not to say that it still isn't.  I assure you, we eagerly await this holiday every year, just for different reasons than before.  While it was Santa we were awaiting before, it is now the opportunity to get the whole family together under one roof.  As of today, we can now officially say that we are all together for the holidays appreciating each other's company, sharing gifts, and eating lots of yummy food!

Red Velvet on my Mind.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Not too long ago I stumbled across Bakerella's website and fell in love with her cake pops.  It is such a cute and creative idea and I couldn't wait to make my own!  I already made her spider brownie bites but this time I opted to make her Red Velvet Cake Balls since I figured they are slightly easier than the pops.  Beware: it does get messy! I think the red velvet in particular was messy since I seemed to be getting red dye all over myself.  The end product, however, was a delicious success! Initially I wasn't too crazy about them, but I think it was because I first tried them after being in the kitchen making them for half the day. However, after letting them sit in the refrigerator overnight, I found myself craving one all day; I couldn't wait to come home and have one for dessert!  Overall, Bakerella is extremely talented and creative in the kitchen and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. The next step for me on the other hand are her cake pops!

Red Velvet Cake Balls

1 box red velvet cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 x 9 cake)
1 can cream cheese frosting (16 oz.)
1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)
wax paper

After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl. Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)

Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50. You can get even more if you use a mini ice cream scooper, but I like to hand roll them.) Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.)  Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.

Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.) Refrigerate before serving.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Window Shopping.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Anthropologie Store Front, Image Source: Flickr

Spending winter in New York for the first time has been such a treat. My winters (or lack thereof) have always been spent in 60-70 degree weather so being in colder climates makes the holidays feel so much more real. Living in an area where I can't avoid stores (eeeek!) and am forced to walk a lot (I repeat, a lot!) I can't help but become infatuated with the store window fronts. Here are some of my favorites that I found on various sites and wanted to share with you. Try not to get too tempted and peek inside all of them!

Barney's Window Front, Image Source: New York Magazine

Chanel Window Front, Image Source: The Pursuitist

H&M Window Front, Image Source: Drooling Isn't Pretty

Henri Bendel Window Front, Image Source: FashionWindows.net

Ralph Lauren Window Front, Source: The Punctuation Mark

The Graduate.

Monday, December 20, 2010

All the projects have been completed, all the papers have been turned in, and all the exams have been taken.  Our youngest sister, Elizabeth, has graduated and is now feeling what every college student yearns for: freedom! We couldn't be prouder of her and the fact that she finished up in just three-and-a-half years. Our parents pockets can hopefully get a little heavier now since they're done putting all four of their children through college!

This weekend our family of six had a wonderful time celebrating this milestone in Atlanta.  The weekend began by going to the Fox Theater to see the Atlanta Ballet perform The Nutcracker.  Saturday was spent at the Graduation and celebrating at JCT Kitchen, which may just be our favorite restaurant in Atlanta (and trust us, there are tons of good ones).  On Sunday we wrapped things up with breakfast until we all had to go our separate ways in order to return to reality.  It's rare that all of us are together so it was wonderful spending time with the whole family! Lucky for us Christmas is just around the corner and we'll all be returning to Miami to spend the holiday together.

The Gift of Giving.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

1. Urban Outfitters, Love Bunnies Ring Holder  2. ModCloth, Stachin' Bottles Corkscrew
3. Urban Outfitters, Cupcake Pedestal Vanity Stand  4. Nordstrom, Tarnish Grosgrain Bow Fedora
5. ZGallerie, Casablanca Lantern  6. ZGallerie, Table Topics Game
7. ModCloth, Candid Candelabra Jewelry Stand  8. Anthropologie, Prospero Journal
9. ModCloth, Style Diaries  10. Jonathan Adler, Happy Chic Agenda
11. Anthropologie, Illume Boulangerie Jar

Can you believe there are only 10 days until Christmas?! It's amazing how time flies at the speed of light right before our eyes.  I feel like it was just yesterday that we were ringing in the new year and to think 2011 is just around the corner...well, on second thought let's not think about that!

Anyways, I have a tad bit of a problem: I'm terrible, horrible, and awful at gift giving.  Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE to give gifts but my issue is that I NEVER know what to get anyone.  I'm so concerned whether they are going to like it or not which causes all sorts of stress in my life.  In order to help remedy that I did lots and lots of research on items that can pretty much be applicable to any of my friends, a sort of one size fits most.  The best thing about the items I came across: they are all under a whopping $50 bucks! 

Overnight Photographer.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Last week clumsy me broke my iPhone 3GS and I. WAS. DEVASTATED. Bad news, right? Wrong. Turns out my misfortune was quickly transformed into great news! I convinced myself into purchasing the 4G which I was hesitant about because I figured it was pretty much the same thing. Wrong again. It's A-MAZING! The quality of the screen is so much better. And the pictures. Ohhhh, the pictures! Alex showed me this new app called the "Hipstamatic" and it was love at first site. It turns boring pictures into lively pictures at the snap of a button! I pretty much feel like I have a brand new camera for the low, low price of $1.99. We were taking pictures all over the city this past weekend and had such a blast, to say the least. Here are a few of my fave "Hipstahhhhhhmaaaaaatics!" as the random guy from Grey Dog said.

P.S. Grey Dog is an amazing sandwich shop that you should definitely check out if you're ever in the city!

Just Add a Glass of Wine...or Two.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Each weekend the boyfriend comes into town I make an attempt to whip up something yummy. Mainly because it gives me an opportunity to cook for someone, but also due to the fact that most restaurants are closed by the time he gets in.  This past weekend I went with one of our favorites: Baked Chicken and Rice with Black Beans. Or shall I say "Baked Pork and Rice with Black Beans?" Due to my boyfriends (rare) allergy to poultry, I substituted pork for chicken, which doesn't affect the end product at all.  This is one recipe I can't seem to stop making and has everyone going back for seconds! While it was only for the two of us, it could have probably fed a small army.  Well, maybe not a small army, but you know what I mean.  The good thing about cooking too much is that there were leftovers to enjoy for lunch the next day (and the day after that)!

Baked Chicken and Rice With Black Beans

1 (10-oz.) package yellow rice mix
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained
1 (10-oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
2 cups (8 oz.) grated Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare rice according to package directions.

Meanwhile, sauté onion, bell pepper, and carrot in hot oil in a medium skillet over medium heat 10 minutes or until tender.

Combine hot cooked rice, onion mixture, chicken, beans, diced tomatoes and chiles, and 1 1/2 cups cheese in a large bowl. Spoon into a lightly greased 3-qt. or 13- x 9-inch baking dish; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Bake, covered, at 350° for 30 minutes; uncover and bake 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

All I Want For Christmas.

Friday, December 10, 2010

1. Coach, Kristen Patent Pleated Satchel  2. Jessica Simpson, Dany Platform Heel  3. Michael Kors, Rose Gold Chronograph Watch  4. Amazon, New York: Portrait of a City  5. Forever 21, Metallic Bow Hair Clip  6. Mikimoto, Basic Stud Earnings in White Gold  7. Forever 21, Polka Dot Bow Hair Clips  8. Forever 21, Sequin Tri-Fold Clutch  9. Kate Spade, 2011 Spiral Desktop Calendar  10. Williams Sonoma, Footed Candy Dish  11. Nordstroms, Ray-Ban 'Classic Wayfarer' Sunglasses  12. Steve Madden, Scandall  13. Walmart, Nikon D3100 DSLR Camera  14. Kate Spade, iPhone 4 Hard Cover

Christmas time is one of my favorite times of the year; between the Christmas decorations, delicious food, and good company, I am always in a feel-good mood. Although one of my favorite parts about Christmas is giving presents, it's always nice to have something to unwrap as well (oh, I won't lie!). This year, these items seem to be at the top of my list... and whether I get them or not, they're still entertaining to look at! What's at the top of your list this year?

It's a Wrap!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

This past weekend was my boyfriend's birthday and we celebrated with an exquisite dinner on Friday evening and a big party on Saturday night.  The entire weekend was filled with lots of fun, tons of dancing, and many laughs (the only thing missing was Kelly)! As you can imagine, all this equated to quite a lazy Sunday!

For his presents, I decided to get a bit crafty with the wrapping.  Although, I could have probably put it in a trash bag and he would still have thought it was the greatest thing ever!  Instead of the typical wrapping paper and ribbon approach, I purchased packaging paper and a roll of black paper raffia.  Together they cost me about seven George Washington's and should last me until I have grandchildren!  I wrapped each present in the paper and then used my computer to create and print different graphics to add to the gifts: a heart, a quote bubble, and 13 circles that spelled out "Happy Birthday."  As the final touch I added the raffia paper and then tied a bow (nothing complicated since I have yet to learn all the fancy schmancy bow techniques)! Wa-la there you have a simple and cute way to present gifts to the ones you love!

The Not-so-Traditional Doughnut.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

You've probably seen these little babies pop up in a couple of posts over the past few weeks. Well, here I present to you one of the most widely used recipes my family can't seem to get enough of: Doughnut Muffins. DUN DUN DUN. As you can see it's not your traditional doughnut, but it tastes so similar that it satisfies that sweet craving for a traditional doughnut I seem to get far too often.  Hence, this is my healthier solution! While the recipe calls for a standard 12-muffin tin, I find making them in a mini-muffin tin works out even nicer. I made these when Kristen visited a few weeks back and served them with cafe con leche for a delicious, not-too-heavy breakfast. Enjoy!!

Gathering all my ingredients to make these babies.

Beating together the butter, sugar, and vegetable oil.

Fresh and hot from the oven!

Topped with cinnamon sugar and ready to eat.

Our scrumptious and not-too-heavy breakfast.

Perfect with a cup of cafe con leche.

Doughnut Muffins

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg, to taste
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin. Or line with 24 paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups with non-stick vegetable oil spray; this will ensure that they peel off the muffins nicely.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars till smooth. Add the eggs, beating to combine. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla. Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.

Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups nearly full. Bake the muffins for 13 to 15 minutes, or until they're a pale golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, and let them cool for a couple of minutes, or until you can handle them. While they're cooling, melt the butter for the topping (this is easily done in the microwave).

Combine the sugar and cinnamon. Use a pastry brush to paint the top of each muffin with the butter, then sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar. Or simply dip the tops of muffins into the melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon-sugar.

Serve warm, or cool on a rack and wrap airtight. You can also freeze them and remove them as needed. Enjoy!

Yields: 24 mini muffins

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